Wednesday, January 26

Could Donald Trump’s presidential library, or theme park, be ahead? | US News

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The night Donald Trump won the U.S. presidency in 2016, he gave his supporters a thumbs up and delivered a victory speech in a midtown Manhattan hotel ballroom. On each side of the stage were two mounted display cases. Inside, like untouchable holy relics, were two red caps adorned with the words “Make America Great Again” (Maga).

It was the kind of reverential display visitors might hope to see in a future Donald J. Trump Presidential Library and Museum, if such a complex is ever built. Whereas the last 14 occupants of the White House are commemorated in official archives and exhibitions Across the country, the divisive Trump figure is hardly known for his acceptance of the rules.

You have not expressed interest in a post-presidential foundation or library and you are not legally required to build one. In fact, as the reality of his electoral defeat by his Democratic challenger Joe Biden slowly creeps in on him, he is said to be contemplating another run for the White House in 2024.

On the other hand, a Trump presidential library, center or theme park could be an irresistible branding opportunity. The museum’s exhibits could present Trump’s side of the story, from the “hoax” Russia investigation to the “stolen” election. And the gift shop could be a source of income.

In all, it has the makings of a commercial success, not just as a Maga sanctuary for the 74 million people who voted for Trump last month, but also for the morbidly curious domestic and international tourists trying to understand an undeniable historic presidency.

“Will I pay $ 29.95 to go to Donald Trump’s Presidential Center and Spa?” I ask Paul Musgrave, assistant professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. “I’ll probably find some way to make it tax deductible in true honor of the president. But I think you can really learn a lot about a political culture from these kinds of presentations of yourself. “

The John F Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts.

The John F Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. Photograph: Cj Gunther / EPA

The United States is dotted with buildings that offer scholars access to former presidents’ official documents, managed by the government’s National Archives, and to visitors a museum experience generally overseen by that president’s foundation, often including a vintage replica of the Oval Office and exhibits of the first lady. dresses.

The network has grown unevenly and remains a kind of mosaic. For more than a century and a half, the documents of former presidents were considered private property that they could take with them when they left office. Some documents suffered wear and tear, some were deliberately destroyed, and some were sold by relatives.

But in 1938 Franklin Roosevelt, a keen amateur historian, saw the value of gifting documents, photos, books, and memorabilia from his administration to the nation for posterity. He shrugged off criticism that he was trying to build a monument to himself and raised funds for a library in Hyde Park, New York, To house the vast collection, he then donated everything to the government’s National Archives.

Twelve more presidential libraries followed, newly built privately, each requiring years of fundraising, but maintained by the federal government. Barack Obama is breaking with tradition with plans for a structure in Chicago billed as “the first fully digital presidential library” – its original records and artifacts will be kept off-site in a National Archives facility.

President George W. Bush's Presidential Center Exibit.epa02414224 Annie Staffaroni (R) of Dallas and her nephew Beau Deurwaarder (L) of Australia look at items in the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University which houses the George W Presidential Center Special Exhibition Bush in Dallas, Texas, USA, October 26, 2010. Southern Methodist University is the future site of the George W. Bush Presidential Library.  EPA / LARRY W. SMITH

An exhibit, including Saddam Hussein’s pistol, at the George W Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas. Photograph: Larry W Smith / EPA

In addition to the 14 libraries of the National Archives system, there are independent entities such as those dedicated to Abraham Lincoln and Rutherford Hayes in Springfield, Illinois and Fremont, Ohio, respectively. There are also plans for a Theodore Roosevelt presidential library in Medora, North Dakota.

It is not the first time that Richard Nixon could offer a plan for Trump. In 1990 he opened a private library at his birthplace in Yorba Linda, California, which was run by loyalists and did not intend to keep his official records. His display of the Watergate scandal, which prompted Nixon’s resignation, was widely ridiculed as propaganda designed to exonerate him.

Musgrave, who worked for the National Archives, recalled: “This was not a presidential library. It was just a museum dedicated to the greatness of Richard Nixon with a very small archive consisting of some presidential and post-presidential records, which were only open to a select number of researchers.

“It was basically a Potemkin library to give Richard Nixon the same standing as everyone else, but it was not part of the federal system because Congress had decided that Nixon could not be trusted with his records because he would probably destroy them. That is why the records remained in the Washington area. “

Nixon died in 1994. Thirteen years later, the Nixon Library finally joined the National Archives system and took possession of their official records. “The price of admission was to remodel the museum,” Musgrave continued. “A new Watergate exhibit came in, it was telling the truth about Watergate, it wasn’t referring to it as ‘a coup’ led by a Democratic House of Representatives. This all sounds familiar, right?

If Trump decides to follow suit and act alone, he too could present a mythical narrative of his presidency, from his inauguration to race relations, from impeachment to the coronavirus pandemic, with no federal restrictions on precision. The past form suggests that he would have no trouble raising the necessary funds.

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, West Branch, Iowa (Photo by Visions of America / UIG via Getty Images)

The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch, Iowa. Photo: Joe Sohm / Visions of America / UIG via Getty Images

Jonathan Alter, a biographer who spent long hours researching the Roosevelt and Jimmy Carter libraries, said: “You have a number of rich and rabid followers and they may give you enough. I think what he will do is build a museum for himself and say fuck the library.

“It will be an eye-catching museum that celebrates it, that covers up everything that went wrong, that doesn’t mention being charged except as a witch hunt. And above all, it will be an opportunity to monetize his legacy. “

But where? Last month Michael Beschloss, Presidential historian, invited his Twitter followers to Suggest potential locations for a Trump presidential library. Responses included a federal prison, North Korea, Moscow, an open-air toilet, and Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Philadelphia.

Jokes aside, libraries are typically located in the president’s hometown and often turn out to be his final resting place – visitors can stand at the gravesites of Truman, Reagan, and others. For Trump, who officially changed his residence from New York to Florida, Mickey Mouse’s home state appears to be the main contender.

Michael D’Antonio, Author of The Truth About Trump and the forthcoming A Consequential President, said: “I could see it having a broadcast center somewhere in Florida and it would greet visitors almost like a little Trump theme park where they could watch the shows being done, Eat at Trump restaurants, stay at Trump hotels and there could be Trump carousels for the kids. Your imagination is not enough to conjure up what could happen. “

Richard M. Nixon;  David Eisenhower Pres. Richard Nixon raising hands w.  Trademark V signs on the helicopter door after leaving the White House following his resignation over the Watergate scandal on August 9, 1974. (Visible on the ground is son-in-law David Eisenhower, glasses and tie) (Photo by Bill Pierce // Time Life Pictures / Fake Pictures)

The helicopter in which Richard Nixon left the White House for the last time is on display in his presidential library in Yorba Linda, California. Photograph: Bill Pierce / Time & Life Pictures / Getty Image

Each library has different characteristics. John F. Kennedy’s Sailboat Victura Shown Outside its in boston, while the story of his murder is told in bleak and understated terms in a dark hallway. Nixon has the helicopter in which he left the White House in 1974. Ronald Reagan’s Air Force One plane is on display at his in Simi Valley, California. Students visiting George W Bush’s in Dallas, Texas, can test their leadership potential in a reenactment of the Situation Room.

The only thing that seems certain about Trump is that he would not be discreet. Musgrave commented: “He could absolutely do whatever he wanted. People joke, ‘Oh, is everything going to be golden?’ I mean, honestly, why not?

“Do we think good taste will contain it? Look at Mar-a-Lago: that is not a difficulty with which you toil. What Donald Trump is selling to the people who will give to build this is Donald Trump and I think he could very well have a physical building that is built to advance Trump’s interests and that looks quite imposing. “

He added: “Donald Trump is not going to be a former president like any other former president and we should not expect his presidential center to abide by any of the rules that we have come to expect.”

Just as Trump has expressed his contempt for his predecessors and will be an uncomfortable member of the club of former presidents, it is unlikely that his library, if it ever happens, will fit perfectly in his place. Clifton Truman Daniel, Honorary Chairman of the Board of the Truman Library Institute, said: “My grandfather designed his presidential library as a teaching tool, not as a monument to him. President Trump’s will be the opposite. The truth of his presidency will be written by others ”.

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